Piece for Peace: a quilter’s call to action leads to an outpouring of support for Ukraine

December 16, 2022

PIECE FOR PEACE - Claudia's letters

Claudia Pfeil wrote a letter to hundreds of Ukrainian children she’s never met.

“Dear children,” she wrote. “This is not an ordinary blanket that you are holding in your hands.”

Her letter is tucked under a bow tied around a tightly rolled quilt.

“These blankets are full of great love for each of you,” she wrote. “Let each quilt warm your soul, and you will always feel the support of the whole world in every piece.”

Claudia Pfeil isn’t usually a writer. She’s an internationally renowned quilter and educator. She works from her fabulous Quilt-Studio & Galerie “Alte Brotfabrik,” the APQS Europe Sales & Education Center located in a beautifully renovated building in Krefeld, Germany. Visitors come from all over to admire her award-winning work. But lately, her showroom is filled with just two colors: blue and yellow.

A tsunami of blue and yellow

Each quilt hanging in her gallery has been touched by quilters from around the world, all responding to Pfeil’s Piece for Peace campaign. In February, just three days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, she began by asking her Facebook friends to contribute.

“Calling my friends worldwide,” she wrote on Facebook on February 27, 2022. “I will start a project collecting blocks in 8 ½”. Colors blue and yellow. I will sew and quilt one or more quilts and donate them to refugees from Ukraine coming to Europe or whatever the future will lead me to.”

The future would be an outpouring of support from Singapore and Sweden and the United States. Blocks started arriving within days. She updated her followers on Facebook.

“The walk to the letterbox is now a highlight of the day,” she said. “Quilters – all united against war!”

The war felt close to home for Claudia, as refugees from Ukraine arrived in Germany. They were families with young children who left loved ones behind, as fighting aged men were ordered to stay in the country.

“Their fathers were not allowed to come with them,” she explained. “They were separated, and I was just devastated.”

Devastated – and then overwhelmed. When she started Piece for Peace, she thought she would get enough material for five quilts. To date, she’s gotten 22,850 blocks – enough for 1,000 quilts.

“We are calling this a kind of blue and yellow tsunami,” she explained. “Because I did not expect that many blocks.”

“We wanted to do something.”

PIECE FOR PEACE - thank you notes

Each block is as unique as its quilter. There are squares with little dolls from the Netherlands. The koala came from a quilter in Australia. A Texas woman sent a brilliant blue honeycomb.

Often, the blocks came with letters of their own, written by quilters thankful for the opportunity to do something. In French, Dutch and English, the quilters send warmth and well wishes to the people of Ukraine. Claudia pinned the letters to a wall in her gallery where visitors can read them.

Hanging over the letters is an APQS banner.

“To rely on the wonderful quilting machines helped me immensely,” she said. “You can worry about everything else but not about the APQS machines. You just keep them clean, and they run, and they run, and they run, and they run.”

Emotional deliveries

Her APQS longarm quilting machines have finished hundreds of quilts, many already gifted to refugees in Germany and Sweden. During one delivery, Claudia described how the children grabbed the quilts and hugged them to their chests, without even unrolling them.

“You get that goosebump-feeling, combined with tears,” she remembered. “Tears of joy. It’s very emotional.”

Claudia wants her next delivery to go directly to war torn parts of Ukraine – where families are living without electricity and heat. But she worries about finding the right group to handle the delivery and assure her they’ll get to the children who need them.

“Someone who knows how much value, not only in material and time but in emotion,” she explained.

To Claudia and her quilters around the world, these are priceless gifts. Piece for Peace sparked outposts in the U.S. too, with quilters accepting their own blocks locally in California and Wisconsin.

PIECE FOR PEACE - Claudia's various

Looking back on the last ten months, Claudia’s entire year was dedicated to Piece for Peace. She didn’t even have time to make her famous show quilt this year. She says never expected the war to last months or the need to be this great. But now she knows quilters will answer the call – no matter what the challenge.

The pieces came. Now she hopes for peace.

“As beautiful as the quilts are, I hope they are not needed.”

Want to help?

Due to the overwhelming response Claudia is no longer accepting quilt tops.

However, Piece for Peace is accepting cash donations to pay for quilt backing for the quilts. To make a donation, please download the PayPal app and send your donation to post@quilt-und-co.de.

(All images courtesy of Claudia Pfeil)